America's Top 25 Women in Healthcare

Megan Brooks

May 04, 2015

Modern Healthcare Magazine has published their sixth biennial list of the top 25 women in healthcare, with Leah Binder, president of the Leapfrog Group, taking top honors.

An article in the magazine notes that the healthcare workforce is dominated by women, but not at the top: 78% of all healthcare and social assistance workers are women, and 77% of hospital employees are women. In 2014, of the 5767 hospitals and health systems in the United States, only 1508 (26%) are led by women chief executive officers (CEOs).

From a pool of nearly 200 nominations submitted by readers, senior editors at Modern Healthcare Magazine judged the candidates on the following criteria:

  • successfully served as a leader of or managed an organization or company,

  • showed the ability or power to effect change in the healthcare industry,

  • demonstrated a willingness to share expertise with others in the field,

  • served as a role model or mentor to other female healthcare executives, and

  • assumed a leadership role in the industry outside of the candidate's own organization or company.

The honorees, eight of them physicians, in alphabetical order are:

  • Leah Binder, president of the Leapfrog Group, a not-for-profit organization focused on improving safety and quality in hospitals.

  • Maureen Bisognano, president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, where she advises healthcare leaders on issues such as patient-centered care, value-driven change, population health, and operational challenges.

  • Marna Borgstrom, CEO of the Yale New Haven Health System.

  • Deborah Bowen, president and CEO of the American College of Healthcare Executives, the professional association for healthcare's current and next generation of leaders.

  • Mary Brainerd, president and CEO of HealthPartners, who oversees a system of more than 22,000 employees, including seven hospitals, 55 primary-care clinics, 22 urgent-care sites, and more than 1700 physicians.

  • Ruth Brinkley, CEO of KentuckyOne Health.

  • Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Health and Human Services secretary, who oversees a trillion-dollar agency with nearly 80,000 workers.

  • Debra Cafaro, CEO of Ventas, a real estate investment trust specializing in healthcare properties.

  • Christine Cassel, MD, president and CEO of the National Quality Forum, former CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the ABIM Foundation, and first female president of the American College of Physicians.

  • Pamela Cipriano, president of the American Nurses Association.

  • Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

  • Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

  • Susan DeVore, president and CEO of Premier, a publicly traded healthcare supply-chain and performance services company.

  • Tejal Gandhi, MD, MPH, president and CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation.

  • Patricia Hemingway Hall, president and CEO of Health Care Service Corp, the fourth-largest health insurer in the country.

  • Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans.

  • Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association.

  • Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest US philanthropic organization dedicated to healthcare.

  • Donna Lynne, responsible for Kaiser Permanente's Pacific Northwest and Hawaii regions in addition to leading its Colorado health plan, comprising more than 1.3 million members and a combined total revenue base of more than $7 billion.

  • Patricia Maryland, president of healthcare operations and chief operating officer at Ascension Health.

  • Elizabeth Nabel, MD, president of Brigham and Women's Hospital.

  • Debra Osteen, senior vice president at Universal Health Services and president of its behavioral health division.

  • Nancy Schlichting, CEO of the Henry Ford Health System.

  • Lynn Simon, MD, MBA, president of clinical services and chief quality officer, Community Health Systems.

  • Penny Wheeler, MD, CEO of Allina Health.

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